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How does the future of our children affect our enterprise?

By Okechukwu Onwuka

The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore. —Dale Carnegie
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.— Winston Churchill
Designing your product for monetization first, and people second will probably leave you with neither. —Tara Hunt, HorsePigCow, 07-12-06

IN several sessions, conferences and workshops with entrepreneurs,
find a highly disturbing trait among business people, aspiring or established, all classes and age. Besides the usual tendency of entrepreneurs wanting to start businesses at the top with poor financial capabilities or experience required to deploy effectively at such levels, the issue for today’s discussion has far greater consequences. I’m referring to the complete disregard to the beneficial aspects of enterprise to the society, country and future generations.

All I see is a widespread desire to generate wealth, regardless of how it is achieved for superficial display of affluence. It appears that we have all given up on the Nigerian state. Selfishness has assumed unimaginable proportions. In my discussion earlier in the week with a close friend, he lamented the state of affairs in the country where everything seems to have grounded to a halt.

He asked for my opinion regarding Nigeria’s ranking below Liberia and other war ravaged countries in terms of power supply. My response was that I was not surprised, given that the Nigerian government conferred National awards to business men whose major business is importation of diesel into Nigeria. Not only are diesel generators harmful to the environment as major pollutants, it underscores the acceptance by all that electric generators remain the only source of power supply to millions of Nigerians. Nobody seems to care about the health impacts nor are we mindful of the economic implications. Global warming is primarily caused by increased presence of greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide(CO2) and Methane in the atmosphere. As a result, incidents of severe weather events are increasing. The big increase in global warming began with the discovery of oil and oil based products usage in cars, equipment, turbines, generators amongst several others.

Where they are: The west has taken significant measures to reduce global warming by taking definite measures in developing alternative renewable energy sources as well as energy conservation. Renewable energy sources include solar power, hydro power, wind and bio-fuels. Denmark grew it’s economy by 50 per cent without increase in Energy use. In the United States, the private sector and individual communities are leading the effort to reduce global warming. Wal-Mart has set a target to be supplied 100 per cent by renewable energy in her stores. Wal-Mart also partnered with General Electric (GE) to develop highly efficient LED lighting for it’s refrigerator cases leading to savings of $13m and 63 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year. GE has pledged to increase from $700m to $1.5 billion in 2010 the annual research budget for cleaner technologies.

Telecoms giant, CISCO plans to invest $15m over 3-5 years to develop traffic reduction schemes in cities around the world. In 2006, at the Clinton Global Initiative, Sir Richard Branson pledged all future profits of his Virgin Group’s airline and rail businesses, an estimated $3b over the next 10 years to investments in renewable energy. Brazil pioneered the world’s most efficient ethanol from cane sugar and 70 per cent of new cars in Brazil are built to run on it. Amory Lovins, an American, in his book, Winning the Oil Endgame argues that the US can do without oil imports by 2040, do without oil completely by 2050 and also grow wealthier doing it. Amory lives in a house where his electricity bill is zero. Many Nigerians reading this would probably be wondering if this is happening in the same world that Nigeria belongs to. Or what is Nigeria’s business with all the ‘greenhouse’ story. Not surprising given the selfish way we all think.
For how long?

Sir Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, and the others will probably not live for another hundred years but their efforts and huge expenditure are focused on making the world a better place for the unborn child. For the good of mankind. The rest of the world has continued to make progress in science and industry, to the point of envisaging an end to dependence on oil and gas. Yet in Nigeria, banking services, Governments and leadership, private and public sector, almost everybody has focused on oil and gas revenue. There is even a plan to power the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Diesel fuelled generators. Majority of the entrepreneurs think only of how to make more money, enough to secure their future and maybe that of their immediate family. This is a tragedy. How can we have 140 million people  thinking only about themselves? Where has the value system that treasures community welfare and a passion to make the future better for the unborn child gone to?

We are all so busy criticizing the government but where will the better government come from? How many of us can boast of being absolutely honest, dedicated and loyal in our respective offices? How many of us keep to the teachings in our religious institutions? How many of our current businesses or future business plan are designed for the common good? How many of us shun bribes at work for awarding contracts? After educating our children in Ghana, overseas and the few expensive institutions in the country, who will be their future neighbours or colleagues? We are all feeling the pains of bad leadership irrespective of tribe.

How many of us in the next elections will vote for the right candidate irrespective of tribe? Are we going to continue in this madness and destroy the future of our children? We have all sinned. Can we start now to make a change? No matter how small. Please, please fellow Nigerians, we cannot continue like this. It is very possible to make entrepreneurial profits and help develop our society at the same time. It’s actually easier that way. If only we can give it a try. There is still hope. The future of our children depends on what we do today. The summer holidays abroad, new houses, and new cars will count for nothing if we individually and collectively destroy their future.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.